Bogotá Cannot Expect A Miracle

Bogotá, Colombia is a city brimming with life. Articles such as those from The New York Times have helped the city see an exponential growth in tourism and investments, something relatively new to a country with a dark past. While they do a good job in pointing out the positive aspects of the city (which are many), the inhabitants of Bogotá know the situation of the capital is only deteriorating. The media wants to make us seem like the happiest place on earth, while we see people begging for money in every street corner, our friends being drugged and robbed, and our streets littered with graffiti and trash. With the return of Enrique Peñalosa as mayor, many people are expecting a miracle in terms of saving the city. However, it is unfair to put such a high expectation on Mr. Peñalosa when the well-being of the city comes down to one thing: the people. You can fix the traffic and the poor infrastructure, but that won't help if you don't improve the people driving on the highway.

The people of Bogotá are constantly walking through the city in fear, knowing that someone could easily kill them for a cellphone or for the small sum of two dollars. They are use to seeing taxi's park in the middle of the street and make everyone go around them. If there is no respect between civilians, how can a city properly function? What is more worrisome is that people will line up around the block to go into the new Starbucks, but when it comes to recognizing and defending the country they inhabit, to basic human rights like security, they shrink back in fear. There are many people who would say that Bogotá is just like any other big city, that you just have to use common sense. However, if someone was murdered for a cellphone on the streets of New York City, there would be public uproar. In Bogotá, no one says anything, it is a daily occurrence. Others will say that if one does not like the city they should just leave. It is that mentality that has kept Bogotá from progressing. We have accustomed ourselves to live and hear about the many crimes and injustices going on around us. We don't stand up when a criminal who has destroyed peoples lives is released on "good behavior," nor when our streets are covered with trash, nor when politicians are accused of corruption.

The people of Bogotá cannot expect a miracle if they don't help themselves. We need new ideas, new minds, and a new mentality. To start off, we must prioritize education for younger generations. We must change that attitude of "that's not my problem" when we witness an injustice. It is easy to blame the government and the politicians, but if we as the citizens of Bogotá do not change, no mayor in the world will ever be able to change the city.